3 April 2012
Low wages, outrageous workloads: Tomato picker Lupe Gonzalo talks to The Perennial Plate.
You might think of tomatoes merely as supermarket staples, but in Florida, where the majority the nation’s crop is grown, thousands of pickers toil for less than a living wage. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a grassroots farmworkers’ rights organization, is trying to change that by asking supermarket chains and fast-food outlets to sign Fair Food Agreements that would improve conditions for the industry’s workers. Daniel Klein, of The Perennial Plate, spent the day with Lupe Gonzalo, a tomato picker and CIW organizer. Watch her story, then imagine picking 200 full-sized buckets of tomatoes in 105-degree heat.
You’ll never look at a tomato the same way again.
2 January 2011
The markets were quiet today – just how I like them. I was able to pay straight away (without queuing) and no bumping into dogs, prams and market trolleys. The ingredients for this salad are made from purchases from the same stall where the owners play music to their vegetables. I’m hoping this salsa makes me sing all afternoon.
1 cucumber, small
handful of tomatoes
3 capsicums, one of each colour
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
several leaves of fresh basil
a few strands of chives
- Peel the skin off the cucumber and dice. Dice the tomatoes and capsicum (red, orange and yellow). Add them to a serving bowl.
- Add the lime juice and extra virgin olive oil with the chopped herbs as a dressing. Mix together and serve.
20 July 2010
You’re probably wondering why there is even a recipe here for tomato salad. A few extra simple steps make all the difference from a soggy mess into something tasty.
We have used heirloom black Russian tomatoes in this dish. Any type of tomato will do, but make sure it is ripe and flavoursome. Consider varying the fresh herbs to whatever you have in the garden. Finely chopped shallots would also be suitable.
The dressing is a little on the generous size, so leave it in a glass jar in the fridge if you end up with too much dressing to tomato ratio (like I did).
parsley, finely chopped
basil, f inely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red or white wine vinegar
- Slice the tomatoes and place them in a colander over a bowl to collect the excess juices. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Leave to drain for 15-30 minutes. Stir occasionally, but there is no need to press them.
- Arrange tomato slices on your serving dish. Top with the parsley and basil leaves.
- Mix the olive oil and vinegar together in a cup and then sprinkle the dressing over the salad.
- Leave to stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.
13 June 2010
Cooked for the Greek entry of the World Cup and Plate challenge. Youvetsi is a lamb and tomato baked dish with rice-shaped pasta.
1/4 cup Olive oil
500g lamb meat, chunks
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tin of diced tomatoes with juice
1 stick of cinnamon
30g of butter
200g risoni or orzo
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the lamb in batches until golden on all sides, then transfer the meat to a plate.
- Saute the onions until golden and softened. Add the garlic and cook for another half a minute, then return the meat to the pan.
- Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add the cinnamon and the butter. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Trasfer the mixture to a casserole dish and add 4 cups of hot water.
- Cover and bake for an hour or until the lamb is tender.
- Rinse the pasta in a fine sieve, drain and add to the casserole dish. Mix through, cover and return it to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and has absorbed most of the sauce.
- You may need to adjust the pasta cooking time and add more water if needed.
- Serve hot. You may like to sprinkle grated parmesan, pecorino, feta or haloumi over the top.
VARIATION: I’m planning on trying this one with rice, but you’d need to add it about 45 minutes in so that it cooks through. If you use rice it’ll will be gluten-free. Leave off the cheese on the top to make it dairy-free.
14 June 2009
Over a month later, finally our first capsicum turned red!
I planted in some bulbs for spring flowers. I’m hoping to see Tulip Silentia, Tulip Ile De France, mixed ranunculus and white rain lilies add some sparkle to our back patio. The bulbs were pushed into the home-grown compost that was littered with broken egg and peanut shells. I just hope we don’t end up with tomatoes instead!
We pulled up all of the tomato plants that were grown from seedlings from the local markets. Big M found them flavourless and unfortunately I have no idea what type they were, but we’ll stick to heirlooms from now on anyhow. The potato plants continue to grow upwards. They received a sugar cane mulch top up, as did all of the beds and pots. We harvested two lemons and several kumquats.
I added some seeds to a set of peat pots – herb robert, tomatillo, tomatoes (various) and broccoli.
If you missed ABC’s Australian Story last week about Dr Maarten Stapper and biological farming, you might want to watch ‘Back to Earth‘ online.
16 May 2009
I predict that heirloom tomatoes will become a food trend some day soon, similar to how sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar were a few years ago. A couple sells heirloom tomatoes at the local markets and that’s where we were introduced to all the different flavours and colours. They can range from peachy yellow ones to ugly black flecked sweet ones.
Tomato twinkies are a family favourite and something I fondly remember eating with my dad after school. I haven’t a clue if anyone else calls them that. It’s important to use real butter and home-grown tomatoes. A few years ago, I changed the version slightly to Jatz biscuits with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and torn basil. Either way they’re still the best snack.
tasty or cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
- Butter sao biscuits
- Top with sliced cheese and a slice of tomato.
- Season with salt and pepper.
14 March 2009
Our tomatoes are starting to pick up the pace in our garden. We need to pick them early to stop the caterpillars having a feast before we do. Soup is a great way to hide any less then perfect tomatoes. I used some that had split from the fluctuating rain and my half-hearted attempts at remembering to watering. I recommend using a tomato peeler – it makes the job ultra easy with it’s special serrated jaws. Add some milk to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Make a big batch if you like, and then freeze the leftovers. You could use this recipe as a basis for passata for pasta sauce or a stew base.
Garden Tomato and Basil Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic, minced
1 cup tomatoes, cored, peeled and chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy milk or milk
1 tbsp sugar
½ lemon, juiced
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Saute the onion and garlic in some canola oil for several minutes.
- Combine the tomato, stock, soy milk, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Take off the heat and add some basil leaves.
- Puree in a blender or food processor.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with basil.
- Serve with toasted cheese sandwiches or a crusty bread roll for a easy dinner or quick lunch.
Variation: Use a tin of tomatoes or a cup of tomato juice (e.g. V8) instead of real tomatoes.
2 January 2009
We have harvested a few tomatoes already, although I’m going to confess these are just some bought ones. Tomatoes are called ‘pomodoro’ in Italian which means ‘golden apple’. This method of quick roasting leaves them retaining their shape. They were still watery and ideal as as a side served with the risotto. They were like a fresh fleshy tomato sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Place tomatoes on a lightly greased baking tray.
- Season with olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
Alternative: If you have more time and would like to slow roast your tomatoes. Slice them in half. Change the oven temperature to 175°C, and leave them for 2-3 hours. Keep them moist with the olive oil. The liquid will have reduced and they will be crisper.
29 December 2008
Australia isn’t known for it’s breads, but we do have damper. To make the traditional campfire bread more festive I’ve added some herbs from the garden, some left over semi-dried tomatoes and a heirloom tomato. The green and red flecks of colour make it ideal to serve at this time of the year. We prefer semi-dried tomatoes to the full sun-dried ones. I’m predicting that heirloom tomatoes will be trendy soon, just like sun-dried tomatoes were a few years ago.
A heirloom tomato was the second vegetable to be harvested. As our compost doesn’t get hot enough to kill the seeds, there are tomato plants dotted all around our garden.
2 cups of self-raising flour
2 tbps chopped chives and basil
6 semi-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
- Sift flour into a bowl and rub in butter with your fingertips.
- Add the herbs and chopped tomatoes and mix.
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the combined water and milk in batches.
- Mix quickly to form a soft dough. Add more flour or water/milk, if required, to get the right consistency.
- Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush with milk.
- Bake at 220°C for 15-20 minutes.
Baked for Bread Baking Day #15: Festive Breads.
26 June 2008
Cooked for the Italian entry in the Euro Cup and Plate challenge.
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fennel powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 Italian sausages, skin removed
1 tsp thyme leaves
100ml red wine
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g rigatoni (tube pasta)
grated Parmasen, to serve
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and fennel with a pinch of salt.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion for a few minutes over low heat to soften it. Break up the sausage meat with your hands and add to the pan. Increase the heat and cook until the meat is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add the the garlic, fennel and thyme and mix in. Then add the wine and stir the sauce.
- Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes or until the wine is reduced, then add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Cook the pasta in a large saucepan until al dente. Drain reserving some water. Add to the sause, toss well and serve sprinkled with the Parmasen.